The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will probably deny Alabama’s proposal to take over the federal coal ash regulations program.
According to the EPA, state-level programs do not protect waterways and people enough.
According to the EPA, coal ash (the residues from burning coal to produce electricity) can cause cancer and other serious illnesses.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday that it was ready to reject Alabama’s proposal for taking over coal ash regulations, saying the plan did not protect people or water sources enough.
The agency proposed denying the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s request to run the state permit program in place of the federal program. In a press release, the agency stated that Alabama’s permit program was less protective of waterways and people than required by federal regulations.
Michael S. Regan, EPA Administrator, said that coal ash exposure can cause serious health problems like cancer if it is not managed properly. Low-income and underserved areas are particularly vulnerable to coal ash, which can be found in groundwater, waterways, drinking water and the air.
The agency stated that it found deficiencies in ADEM permits, including the closure requirements of unlined surface impoundments and groundwater monitoring networks.
ADEM disputed EPA’s initial finding. It said that “permits granted by ADEM to close coal ash impoundments, and remediate groundwater surrounding the impoundments are in compliance with all state and federal regulations and protect human health and environment.”
What remains after coal is used to produce electricity is coal ash. Coal ash is contaminated with mercury, arsenic and chromium that can cause cancer and other illnesses.
Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma have all been approved for programs by the EPA.
The Southern Environmental Law Center applauded the decision of the Alabama permit being denied.
Barry Brock, Director of SELC Alabama’s Alabama Office, said that the EPA had stood up to protect Alabama’s communities and clean water by refusing ADEM’s request to take over regulation.
Brock stated that “ADEM allowed Alabama Power to dump coal ash in our rivers, lakes and groundwater for years, causing harm to our communities and water resources.”